How do the Toyota RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner compare?

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Toyota is a popular brand among Cartelligent clients and their line of crossover SUVs are always top choices. We've compiled the details of the RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner, so that you can weigh the benefits of each and decide which option is right for you.


RAV4 vs. Highlander vs. 4Runner?

In this article, we've configured a sample vehicle for each car and then examined some of the key differentiating factors of each. We've based our sample models on popular choices among Cartelligent clients.

  • 2016 Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD: Our sample RAV4 is the XLE All Wheel Drive. Added features include navigation, touchscreen display and integrated backup camera. MSRP as configured is $29,635.

  • 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD: We've chosen a 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE All Wheel Drive with a third row of seats. Features include moonroof, power liftgate, navigation, touchscreen display and integrated backup cameraMSRP as configured is $39,929.

  • 2016 Toyota 4Runner Trail PremiumWe've equipped a sample 2016 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium with moonroof, heated seats, navigation, touchscreen display and integrated backup cameraMSRP as configured is $41,8910.


Vehicle Comparison

We'll look at the features of each vehicle side-by-side.

  RAV4 Highlander 4Runner
Model Type 2016 RAV4 XLE AWD 2016 Highlander XLE AWD 2017 4Runner Trail Premium
MSRP $29,635 $39,929 $41,910


Engine and Fuel Economy

  RAV4 Highlander 4Runner
Engine 2.5L 4-Cylinder 3.5L V6 4.0L V6
Horsepower 176 270 270
City mpg 22 18 17
Highway mpg 29 24 21


The RAV4 offers the highest fuel economy, while the 4Runner provides more torque than either the RAV4 or the Highlander.



  RAV4 Highlander 4Runner
Seating 5 7 5
Cargo volume (behind seats) 38.4 ft3 42.3 ft3 46.3 ft3
Cargo volume (rear seats folded) 73.4 ft3 83.2 ft3 88.8 ft3


The RAV4 provides about 88% of the Highlander's cargo volume when all rows of seats are folded down. The 4Runner offers 10% more cargo space than the Highlander with all seats folded.



  RAV4 Highlander 4Runner
IIHS rating Top Safety Pick+ Top Safety Pick+ n/a
Rearview camera Available Available Standard
Crash prevention Available Available Available


Both the RAV4 and Highlander are IIHS Top Safety Picks+ when configured with optional front crash prevention.


Cost to purchase: RAV4 vs. Highlander vs. 4Runner

First we'll examine the cost of each when purchased. All payments represent pricing based on market conditions at the time of writing.

  RAV4 Highlander 4Runner
MSRP $29,635 $39,929 $41,910
Down payment $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Monthly payment (inc. tax) $495 $715 $775
Total of payments over five years $31,705 $44,685 $48,225


The RAV4 is around $220/month less than the Highlander and saves about $13,000 in payments over the course of five years. The 4Runner is about $60 more per month than the Highlander and costs about $3,500 more over the course of the loan.


Cost to lease: RAV4 vs. Highlander vs. 4Runner

Next we'll compare the three vehicles on a three year, 12,000 mile/year lease.

  RAV4 Highlander 4Runner
MSRP $29,635 $39,929 $41,910
Down payment $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Monthly payment (inc. tax) $300 $425 $535
Lease disposition fee $350 $350 $350
Total of payments over three years $13,350 $17,725 $21,575


The RAV4 is again the lowest cost option, saving about $125/month and $4,375 over the course of the lease. The 4Runner is somewhat higher than the Highlander, leasing for $110 more per month, or $3,850 over the three year lease.


Which to buy: RAV4, Highlander or 4Runner 

The RAV4 and Highlander offer the strongest value but all three vehicles can be fantastic options depending on your personal circumstances. Your Cartelligent agent can talk you through the pros and cons of each vehicle (as well as any other brands) to help you make an educated decision.


Whether you want a new Toyota SUV or any other new car, Cartelligent can help you get a great deal on exactly what you want. Call our team of car-buying experts at 888-427-4270 or get started today.